Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My Snail Children

My wife and I have a vegetable garden.

It is on an island in the San Juan chain somewhere north of Seattle and south of Victoria.

We islanders refer to the mainland as “the states”.

My wife and I were recently accused of being “closet Canadians”.

The accuser was a nice Canadian woman that we had been having breakfast at the next table to her (and her husband’s) table.  That was on the Fourth of July.  We were watching our local islands’ parade in honor of the day.

But if you are looking for a point in those facts, forget it.
There is no point.

But, really, there is a point.

It is just that the point is not obvious, and as with most of what I think or do, or say, the non-obvious is also non-popular and to be ignored.

But since I deal in the non-obvious, I am going to continue apace.

And I will bet that my baby snails would happily support my lack of normal human focus on things of normal human importance. Because that is really what I want to talk about here.  And they are what I really want to talk about here. 

I guess it is necessary to set a sort of stage for what follows.

A stage for example with things like snails in the salad greens, for example is what I mean.

The vegetable garden is struggling this year. La Nina has kept stuff stunted and sad.  That is true with the exception of the zucchini and Cinderella pumpkins.  Maybe the cucumbers are going to have a late surge – who knows.  But basically the garden has been a bust.

But the snails don’t know that.

Anything green and leafy is good news to snails, and even in failure, our garden has some green and leafy plants.

That is because various greens – lettuces, roquets, mustards and leafy cabbages – all grow well in an arctic climate.

So we have been having amazing salads.

Someone many years ago imported snails of the sort that are those deliciously garlic laced and oily things known as escargot.
They have flourished.

When we harvest leaves from our greens there are frequently escargot sized members of the clan clinging to the leaves.  Those are easily brushed off and put back into the greenery.

What I didn’t know until yesterday, and much more so this evening, is that those snails are casting off amazing numbers of babies.  They are not obvious on the harvested leaves.  They, in their un-obvious state get put into the sink of cold water that I put the harvest into so that it may shed dirt and plump up from the immersion in cold water.

They are really small.
They look more or less like little stones, except that they can be seen clinging to the sides of the sink .

Stones don’t do that.

Tonight I found five of them so-clinging.  I couldn’t bear to wash them down the sink so I swished around in the water until I had al five of them happily cruising around my right hand.

And they do cruise.

As soon as they realized that they were on a new surface they poked out of their tiny shells and, with their even tinier “horns” at full mast, they started wandering the real estate.of my hand.

I felt as if I were some sort of father of snails.

I hope they are all happy in the garden where I brushed them off.

I also couldn't help wondering if there had been any in the salad that I hadn't found.   It is a question that makes eating a salad something like an Easter egg hunt.